Radio debaters come to town
4:46pm Mon Feb 04, 2013
More than 400 students and local residents were in the audience at the Minster School, Southwell, for a live recording of BBC Radio 4’s debating show, Any Questions, chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby.
Topics discussed included the British stance on the Mali conflict, how confidence can be restored in the police and media following the Leveson Inquiry, and the need for more foodbanks.

The event was organised by Mr Clive Owen, a politics teacher at the school, helped by around 40 pupils, mainly politics students.

The panel consisted of Mr Ken Clarke, the MP for Rushcliffe and former Chancellor of the Exchequer who is now a minister without portfolio; Labour MP Mr Keith Vaz; Mr George Galloway, the Respect Party’s only representative in parliament; and Ruth Porter from the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Mr Owen applied to the BBC in September for the show to be recorded at the school.

Producer Lisa Jenkinson said: “We go all over the country, visiting churches, schools, and universities, and Southwell has worked really well as a location.

“We often find that schools are good venues because we get a good range of ages and types of people in the audience.

“Some of the questions that were submitted were very good indeed, and others were less serious but very funny.

“Southwell is a beautiful town and the people have been very friendly to us.”

One of the questions that caused the most heated debate was posed by Mrs Hannelore Nunn, a teaching assistant at the school, who asked the panel: “Do you think Mali will become the new Aghanistan?”

Mr Vaz said the UK should be prepared to support France while Mr Galloway opposed any intervention in the North African state.

Speaking after the debate, Mrs Nunn said: “It’s a question that doesn’t have one answer so I was very interested to hear what they all had to say.”

Owen Sparkes, 16, a politics student at the school, said: “It was a fantastic panel.

“I didn’t think they were going to get such a great group of people.

“My opinions on George Galloway changed after hearing him. I sympathise more with him now.”

Mr Vaz said: “The audience asked some very difficult questions.”

Mr Phil Blinston, executive head of the school, said the programme was a great opportunity for the politics students to learn about debating.

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